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The Numbers After 55 Games: Some Wins, But Not Enough

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A recent upswing in overall events, the last three games aside, was a real nice break from the general and regular losing that the New Jersey Devils have been showing their fans this season. But the question is how it affected the team's stats. Let's look.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

It has been quite a while since I have done one of these posts.  Fifteen games ago I was writing about the stats at the halfway mark, commenting on Peter DeBoer's recent firing.  Now, that seems like ancient history.  Six weeks later, and the New Jersey Devils have played 15 games.  The shortage of games recently has something to do with the all-star break, which took time away from the regular season, but mainly because the Devils played so many games so early in the season that there needed to be a layoff somewhere.  Now, they are not the leader in games played.  In fact, the Devils are right in the middle of the pack in terms of games played and games yet to play.

Since the last article, the Devils have gone 8-5-2.  That is the best record that they have posted in quite some time.  The previous two articles had the Devils going 2-6-2 and 2-5-3.  That was when this team was really in the dumps, and it led to a coaching change.  Now that we have been fully able to see what this new coaching trio has done, the results in terms of record are not bad.  The question is will those better results mean better numbers, or as the eye test has shown many nights, did the Devils play poorly but still manage to get 2 points despite that poor play?  Let's find that answer out.

NHL.com Stats

These stats come from NHL.com. They are more of the basic, main stats that will be shown, while the more advanced, possession-based statistics will be shown later on.  This is not a full list of what the site has to offer, so check it out if you want more.  NJ's rank amongst the 30 NHL teams is listed on the bottom row of the chart.

Note: If you need an explanation of what any stat is, a list is at the end of this article. Also, if you would like to compare these stats to the previous articles, they are linked at the bottom.

Team

Point %

G/GP

GA/GP

5-5 F/A

PP%

PK%

S/GP

SA/GP

FO%

NJD

.464

2.18

2.64

0.97

19.3%

78.3%

24.0

30.6

47.7%

Rank

25th

28th

16th

22nd

11th

25th

29th

23rd

26th

Well, the point percentage has certainly gone up thanks to the wins.  Whereas last time the Devils were at .413, they are now at .464, which is a nice jump.  They have moved up 2 spots in the rankings as a result too.  Of course, the point percentage is still below .500, and the team is still only at 25th in the NHL, which is not good at all.  So I guess it depends on how you want to look at it.

To showcase the wins, both goals per game played and goals against per game played have improved.  Last time, G/GP was at 2.08.  The improvement from that to now, however, has not moved the Devils up in the rankings.  GA/GP last time was at 2.72.  This small jump, interestingly enough, has propelled NJ up 4 spots in the rankings.

The one final area where the Devils increased was with 5-5 goals for versus goals against.  Last time that stat was at 0.86, and now it is at 0.97, a nice increase.  This is good for a movement up 3 spots in the rankings.

While the point percentages and goal stats have seen some nice (albeit somewhat minor) increases, nothing else here on the list has really gotten better.  The power play percentage is near identical, and the PK% has gotten worse by almost a full percentage point.  The Devils were up to 22nd in the league in terms of PK rank, but are now back to 25th.  Shots against per game are fairly similar to last time, but shots per game have actually dropped considerably since last time, despite all of the wins.  The Devils were taking 25.4 shots per game at the halfway mark of the season.  Now, they are down even further.  To highlight just how low 24 shots per game is, the 28th ranked team in this category, Calgary, has 26.9 shots per game.  That is 2.9 more shots per game between the 28th and 29th ranked teams.  That is a large gap.  To showcase further, 2.9 shots per game higher than Calgary would land someone tied with Washington for 17th in the league.  While the Devils have not been shooting much, the team has had some high PDO recently to account for their wins-which we will get to in just a minute here.

So in the end, New Jersey's main stats have not really improved all that much despite the winning.  Let's check the more advanced stats.

Hockey Analysis Stats

The other area I have been looking to for stats is Hockey Analysis.  While there are other websites out there for advanced statistics, and Hockey Analysis even has a new website called Puckalytics, I am used to navigating this website and therefore I am sticking with it for now.  If you would like to check out more advanced stats from other websites, I have linked some good options at the end of the article, and will continue to link more as I find them out.

Note: Advanced stats note only 5 on 5 action, to remove as many score effects as possible.

Team

FF

FA

FF%

CF

CA

CF%

OZFO%

DZFO%

NZFO%

PDO

NJD

1455

1662

46.7%

1961

2176

47.4%

28.7%

33.1%

38.2%

101.2

Rank

29th

9th

25th

29th

4th

25th

28th

9th

4th

5th

So once again, not a real improvement here, but let me dive into it for just a minute.  The Fenwick and Corsi splits are rather interesting.  Last time around, the Devils were 25th in the league in Fenwick For events, and 15th in the league in Fenwick Against events.  Now, those ranks are 29th and 9th respectively.  This means that the Devils are getting considerably less Fenwick events on offense, but are similarly allowing much less Fenwick events against them on defense.  It averages out to be a slightly worse percentage.  Last time the FF% was at 47.9%, now it is at 46.7%.  So while not too much of a change in overall percentage, it seems there has been a change in overall performance: considerably less events both for and against.

The same goes for Corsi.  This time around the team is 29th and 4th in events For and Against, while 15 games ago they were at 26th and 9th.  This is not as big of a change as with Fenwick, but it still shows the same effect: the Devils are generating fewer events, and are also preventing more events from occurring against them.

Zone faceoff percentages are also declining.  Now, there is a rather large difference between offensive zone draws versus defensive zone.  Neutral zone draws are still the highest, but look at the percentages.  They are clearly skewed to neutral and defensive zone draws.  So the Devils are regularly pinned back, or have to at least start from the neutral zone way too often.  They are not getting enough offensive zone faceoffs, which helps to prevent offense from occurring.  The rank percentages from last time were 25th, 11th, and 9th respectively.  Now, they are 28th, 9th, and 4th.  You can see the change.  Less offensive zone faceoffs, more everything else.

Perhaps the worst change, however, is with PDO, as this may account for some of the wins we witnessed on that home stand.  15 games ago, the Devils had a PDO of 99.9, good for 19th in the league.  That was as close to neutral luck as you could get without actually being at 100.0.  Since then, we have seen NJ get some wins, but we have also seen their PDO shoot up.  It is now at 101.2, making the Devils the 5th luckiest team in the league.  It seems that luck could be a solid contributor to NJ's recent success.

Sadly, like with the NHL.com stats, the advanced stats shown here do not paint the Devils in a better light, and do not show the team improving.  In fact, it shows them on a continual decline in terms of possession.  The only stat to considerably improve is PDO, a luck-based statistic.

Goaltender Stats

Here are the stats for New Jersey's goalies.  Most of Cory Schneider's stats will come from the Devils' main website, with some extra coming from Hockey Reference.

Goalie

GP

GS

W

L

OT

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

PIM

MIN

QS

Cory Schneider

47

47

19

21

5

103

1354

1251

.924

2.29

2

0

2703

30

Rank

1st

1st

16th

2nd

13th

8th

2nd

2nd

7th

11th

20th

28th

2nd

N/A

Business as usual for Schneider, arguably the team's MVP.  His .924 save percentage is up from last time, and is getting closer to his career .925 save percentage.  His GAA has also dropped from 2.47 to 2.29, another good sign.  While his win-loss record is still below .500, blame the rest of the team for that one.  Cory has been the best part of this team, no question.

I believe we can now remove Scott Clemmensen from this page, as Keith Kinkaid is clearly the number 2 guy in this organization, and it is well deserved.  Kinkaid also now has his stats on the Devils main website, which helps for ranking purposes.  Here is how the backup has been playing.

Goalie

GP

GS

W

L

OT

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

MIN

QS

Keith Kinkaid

11

7

2

4

3

24

266

242

.910

2.76

0

521

4

Rank

54th

59th

62nd

53rd

20th

57th

55th

55th

N/A

N/A

47th

57th

N/A

Kinkaid has also been a bright spot for this team.  While his .910 save percentage represents a significant drop from 15 games ago when he had a .928, he is still performing well in net.  Some games, like when he got slaughtered against Montreal, were more to do about the team in front of him than his ability to stop a puck.  He is definitely a competent backup to say the least, and combined with Schneider, they make the goaltending situation the best part of this team by far.

What Does It All Mean?

Well, I think it means that our eyes were not deceiving us.  The Devils were winning many of those games despite some poor play overall.  The numbers have not necessarily improved, and in many cases, they have gotten worse.  Possession numbers continue to fall, shots per game have plummeted, and PDO has increased significantly.  This all means that the Devils are really not playing all that better despite getting some wins.  They are winning despite their numbers.  I mean I will take the wins, it was very nice to watch a successful home stand, but that sort of success was clearly unsustainable.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts?  What do you think the data says about the New Jersey Devils through 55 games?  What other statistical information can you provide that tells something else about this team?  Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.

Old Articles:

The First 10 games.

20 Games in.

The Numbers Through 30.

The Numbers at the Halfway Mark.

Other websites with quality statistics to check out:

www.war-on-ice.com

www.behindthenet.ca

www.puckalytics.com

www.naturalstattrick.com

Statistics Chart:

Point% = percentage of points the Devils have gained

G/GP = goals per game played

GA/GP = goals against per game played

5-5 F/A = Ratio of goals for versus against in 5 on 5 play

PP% = power play percentage

PK% = penalty kill percentage

S/GP = shots per game played

SA/GP = shots against per game played

FO% = faceoff percentage

FF = number of Fenwick events for the Devils

FA = number of Fenwick events against the Devils

FF% = Fenwick For percentage

CF = number of Corsi events for the Devils

CA = number of Corsi events against the Devils

CF% = Corsi For percentage

OZFO% = offensive zone faceoff percentage

DZFO% = defensive zone faceoff percentage

NZFO% = neutral zone faceoff percentage

PDO = statistic to determine luck.  Add a team's shooting percentage and save percentage at even strength.  100 is the mean.

QS = Quality Start for goalies.  A quality start is when a goaltender has a save percentage greater than his average SV% for the year.  If he faces less than 20 shots, however, he only needs a save percentage of .885 to get a quality start.